Punch Drunk Wonderland

Is Mike Evans Primed for a Second-Half Surge?

After a slow start to his rookie season Tampa Bay rookie receiver Mike Evans has started to show flashes in recent weeks. The receiving corps for the Bucs looks more like a basketball team than a group of NFL receivers, but that also can give them matchup advantages against smaller defensive backs. Evans is showing that his size coupled with his athleticism could be the makings of something good. Is he gearing up for a strong second half of his rookie season, and does that make him fantasy relevant going forward?

Our friends at numberFire.com have taken a look at Evans and his potential in the second half of the 2014 season.

The 2014 NFL Draft has been ripe with productive wide receivers already.

Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins have become top options for their teams. Brandin Cooks, Jordan Matthews, and Odell Beckham have shown us glimpses of their full potential.

Donte Moncrief and Martavis Bryant have emerged in recent weeks. Even the undrafted Allen Hurns has had flashes of brilliance while playing with fellow rookie Allen Robinson.

Lost in the rookie shuffle, tough, has been the second wide receiver drafted among the group: Mike Evans.

After a 7-catch, 124-yard, 2-touchdown game against the Browns in Week 9, Evans is looking like the most recent rookie wideout to stake claim to a number-one role on his team, but would that be putting too much stock into one performance?

Tailor-made to Score

A lot of factors will come into play if Evans really does emerge. He will have to surpass the big-bodied Vincent Jackson who plays opposite him.

Evans, though might already have done that – especially in the red zone. Evans has as many touchdowns as Jackson does in the red zone: two. Evans has caught 3 of his 5 red zone targets (60%), and 66.7% of those catches have turned into touchdowns. Jackson has 9 red zone targets but only 2 catches (22.2%).

This is because Evans’ physical prowess – he is 6’5” and has a 231-pound frame – places him in some very promising company from the NFL’s recent history.

Because Evans is at the very edge of the physical spectrum, I have to scale things back just so there are some peers to discuss. Here are the 10 rookie wideouts who were at least 6’3”, 220 pounds and scored at least 4 touchdowns in their rookie season dating back to 2000. They are sorted by their Reception Net Expected Points (NEP), which quantifies a player’s production above or below expectation based on receptions.

Player Season Rec Rec NEP Tar Tar NEP Rec NEP/Tar Catch Rate TD
Marques Colston 2006 70 111.67 115 63.02 0.97 60.87% 8
Julio Jones 2011 54 78.57 95 39.37 0.83 56.84% 8
Larry Fitzgerald 2004 58 69.64 115 -4.86 0.61 50.43% 8
Josh Gordon 2012 50 64.99 95 25.04 0.68 52.63% 5
Calvin Johnson 2007 48 63.10 95 17.50 0.66 50.53% 4
Kelvin Benjamin* 2014 40 56.49 78 27.24 0.72 51.28% 5
Marc Boerigter 2002 20 47.69 38 27.65 1.26 52.63% 8
Matt Jones 2005 36 47.63 69 13.05 0.69 52.17% 5
Mike Evans* 2014 32 36.56 53 13.06 0.69 60.38% 4
Tyrone Calico 2003 18 33.50 43 -0.10 0.78 41.86% 4

*Data through Week 9 of the 2014 NFL season.
I know that’s a lot of numbers, so I’ll provide some key takeaways. While it’s enticing to look at the players we know are good (the top half of the table) and hope for the best for Evans, there are also three players who didn’t quite pan out after their rookie seasons. However, the table isn’t sorted by who had the best career. It was sorted by Reception NEP, which helps indicate just how important those receiving touchdowns were and how the player performed as a whole.

Continue reading at numberFire.com… (@numberfire)


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...